Marriage registrar suspended for forcing disabled woman to climb stairs to office
Despite requests from Virali Modi, a wheelchair user, and her fiance, officer Arun Ghodekar refused to come downstairs; the building had no lift
A marriage officer has been suspended after a disabled woman was forced to go up to the second-floor office of a marriage registrar at Khar in Mumbai on her wedding day to complete the formalities.
The Maharashtra revenue department on Wednesday, 25 October, issued a government resolution (GR) suspending the officer - Arun Ghodekar.
Virali Modi, who uses a wheelchair and identifies herself as a disability rights activist, in a post on X last week claimed she had to be carried to the second-floor office of the marriage registrar in the city on her wedding day because the building had no lift and the officials refused to come down to complete the formalities.
"How is this fair? What happened to the Accessible India campaign? Just because I’m a wheelchair user, do I not have the right to get married to someone I love? What if someone had slipped and what if I had fallen on my wedding day? Who is responsible?" she asked.
The post, which was shared many times, had also elicited a response from Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who said he was sorry for what she had to face and assured to take "corrective and appropriate action".
The state revenue department in the GR said Ghodekar, as a government officer, insisted that the disabled person come to the second floor on the ground of collecting her and the groom's fingerprints and photos on the computer.
“There are provisions in the Special Marriage Act 1954 where the marriage officer needs to go to the wedding location at a reasonable distance from the marriage registration office. The government officers have to respond and provide service to the weaker sections," the GR said.
"People close to Virali Modi and her fiance, Kshitij Nayak, telephoned Ghodekar, requesting him to come downstairs to complete the marriage registration procedure. But Ghodekar insisted that they come to the second floor of the building, which had no lift. For violating the service rules and indecent behaviour, Arun Ghodekar will remain suspended till further order,” it added.
Virali Modi in her post last week said, "I am disabled and I got married at the Registrars Office at Khar Mumbai on 16/10/23. The office was on the 2nd floor WITHOUT a lift. They wouldn’t come downstairs for the signatures and I had to be carried up two flights of stairs to get married.".
"I am disheartened that my country’s government and citizens cannot accommodate to my disability. My faith in humanity has been destroyed by this ordeal. I am not a piece of luggage that needs to be carried up two floors. I am a human being and my rights matter!" she added on an anguished note